Alcohol-Free Beer

As the usual designated driver, I’m sick to the flippin’ teeth of Coke, Orange, and J2O makes me ill (far too sweet), so I’ve recently been buying alcohol-free beer. Kaliber is okay, and Beck’s is decent enough. I’ve also tried C2 (not alcohol-free but reduced) and that’s rather nice. Alcohol-free Kopperberg is nice, but again far too sweet.

The selection in most pubs I’ve been to is not great (normally Beck’s), and to be honest nowadays we just tend to go to people’s houses instead, so a trip to the local Co-op is normally in order. Beck’s was the only one there too.

http://www.alcoholfree.co.uk/ looks like an interesting option. Just chanced upon it this evening, and it looks like a good place to shop for the driver who likes the taste, but not the consequences, of regular beer. They also have wine, cider and food on offer.

Unfortunately it’s too late to put an order in for tonight. Whatever you do this evening, have a good time and Happy New Year!

WMWifiRouter

WMWifiRouter is a fantastic little tool for your Windows Mobile PDA/Phone that creates an ICS bridge between wifi and the data connection… roughly speaking it turns your phone into a Wifi Router.

Considering I’ve been faffing about for ages trying to get the drivers working for my laptop (with little success) the ease with which this little utility ran was astounding. Simply create an ad-hoc wifi network (I suggest securing it…), run the program and connect to the network from your laptop. You’ll probably need to fiddle with IP addresses, but there are detailed instructions on a link from the program’s homepage.

It also means I can make more use of my Nokia tablet, since bluetooth pairing never seemed to work. Bonus!

I’m seriously considering getting a ‘3’ USB modem in the near future for my various remote internet needs, but this is a very nice instant solution (just wish I’d had it for my daily train commutes to London).

BTW – does anybody have any first-hand experience with ‘3’ and USB Modems? They look decent enough, but what are customer support & connectivity actually like?

Hi-res screenshots of web pages

Here’s one for the visitors. Do you know of any software that can produce high-resolution screenshots of web pages?

Currently the usual method is to do a print screen and paste it into the destination document. This is at (I believe, for PCs) 72dpi, and really doesn’t look too great on printouts.

My reckoning is that there ought to be a program out there that can grab images of web pages at higher resolutions, 300dpi+. The snag is that if you think in conventional ‘print screen’ terms, you’ll be getting 72dpi every time, so it really ought to be a program that re-renders the page (ie. understands HTML; CSS, etc) – maybe a Firefox/IE plugin?

I’ve seen (and written) programs in the past that take automated snapshots of websites – normally by rendering in a browser on a virtual terminal and saving the output to an image – but nothing that renders directly to a high-resolution image… any ideas?

Odd Socks

Odd SocksI am rubbish at telling the difference between dark colours and blacks. Something about missing cones or not enough carrots… this leads to great frustration as I always seem to mismatch my dark blue and black socks (they spawn; I have hundreds).

Little Miss Matched has the perfect solution… they sell nothing but odd socks, so you can finally remove all the uncertainly and be confident that people will know that – yes, you meant to wear odd socks. It’s designed for girlees, but they have a men’s section too – huzzah!

Mashup Event Review

A few days ago I ventured into our glorious Capital to get a peek of some of the newest ventures in the UK tech/web industry. The event was organised by the folks of mashup* Event (that is Simon, Julia and Tony) and hosted at Sun Microsystems’ Regis House in central London.

After a long period of wandering chatting to various teams we convened in the presentation suite to begin the formal demos. To get through the number of demos (sixteen) in time each presentation was strictly limited to five minutes.

My entry was free on the condition I write about the event and the demos seen, which I’m naturally happy to do! But rather than pull this post out into one large article I’ll break it into bitesize chunks over a few days. This will also give me a chance to follow up on some bits and pieces.

Quick summary? Mobile phones and social networking are featured prominently, and often together. Community-building remains strong, and video is a featured (or core) aspect of many of these applications.

Facebook finally sends proper emails

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/06/facebook-messages-small-change-big-impact/

Facebook are now apparently sending out the full text of emails to its users. Remember my sarky little post about it back in August? I’m one happy bunny now ๐Ÿ™‚
“Suddenly, Facebook messages are actually forwarded to my outside email address, letting me read it and decide if itโ€™s important enough to click on to Facebook and respond”

Facebook seriouly screwed with my email workflow – I’ve been trying to get into routines to manage email, and having to jump through hoops (ie. login/open a browser – particularly difficult on a mobile device) was a serious irritatation.

Anyway, if all this is working as email should there’ll be no more worries.

Funnily enough, as a pre-authentication system of sorts Facebook has the potential to be a fantastic email system – roughly speaking, you have an instant whitelist of fairly trustworthy origin. Much better than regular ol’ email. I would like to write about this separately

Original link from Marc Canter

Facebook ‘Advanced’ Walls

People keep leaving me messages on Facebook. Apparantly they’re trying to get in touch with me using my ‘Advanced Wall’ or ‘Special Wall’ or something like that. As far as I can tell these are add-ons because when I try to read the messages I get a ‘Do you want to install this application’ message?

I really don’t want to install some application to read messages sent to me. Moreover – this implies that my friends are not aware that I can’t read these messages. Are they really sending me messages and happily thinking I might get them?

The daft thing is that computer people have been insisting for years the discipline, “don’t install any application that you don’t trust”. I don’t trust many of these application developers (I don’t know who they are), yet Facebook with its particular architecture not only encourages me to install ‘applications’ to see my messages, it gives them opt-out access to send me emails and (I am presuming here) does not notify my friends that a message being sent to me will not actually be received.

Seriously if somebody writes a rogue application, what is stopping them from siphoning off all sorts of personal information?

Would it be appropriate to message the friend in question and tell them I’m refusing to install this application and, if they really want to they can use my ordinary wall or (forbid the thought) email me…?